Her face is raw and puffy with emotion. She holds her head in her hands, dragging her fingers desperately through her bleached hair as she sobs into a webcam. The Female Boss, once renowned for her gumption, reduced to a bawling mess. “They’re killing me, they’re killing me. They’re fucking killing me,” she cries.
This is Tulisa the day she learned she was to be formally charged with supplying Class A drugs. She’s referring, of course, to the undercover Sun on Sunday reporters who instigated the drugs sting she’s spent the last year fighting. (The case collapsed last week).
Speaking on the Today Programme yesterday, the singer claimed it was her working class background that made her an easy target for the press. She is, after all, the rags-to-riches girl who grew up on a Camden council estate and was branded a chav by the media the minute her star began to rise. To quote the boss herself, the journalists “thought it would stick”.
She’s not wrong. The public were quick to believe the allegations against Tulisa when they were splashed across the front pages in June last year. Few of us stopped to question the validity of the claims, and when the charges were brought against her we were vindicated in our thinking. The girl we’d long suspected to be “a bit rough” had come good and provided us with everything we needed to boot her from the comfortable, star-studded livelihood she’d worked for and back into the seedy, drug-addled existence we felt she deserved.
We’re all guilty of exercising double standards when faced with celebrity wrongdoing. It’s politely assumed, and then ignored, that middle class celebrities dabble in a bit of blow on super-yachts in St Tropez, or in private members clubs in Soho. But when similar allegations emerge relating to someone from a council estate, or someone who made their name on a reality TV show, we’re quicker to crack the whip.
Perhaps it’s because people who flourish against the odds are deemed to be role models for teenagers from similar backgrounds. Perhaps, and this is worse, it’s simply a deep-rooted desire to see the working class hero brought down a peg or two.
Tulisa must, however, take some responsibility for our pigeon-holing. This is a woman who built her career around appearing street-wise and savvy, and made a lot of money along the way. She pandered to our stigmatisation and we lapped it up.
Guilty though we may be of believing too quickly a smear campaign led by a tabloid, she must ask herself why we fell hook, line and sinker. Her working class roots might have made her an easy target for the Sun on Sunday, but it was this combined with years of “tough girl” branding that guaranteed her a place in the public’s hall of shame.